Theatre offers Iqaluit youth chance to learn about social issues

A sociologist and performer pair together to hold workshops for teens aged 12 to 17

Theatre workshop leaders Murielle Jassinthe, left, and Emilie Tremblay-Séguin pose for a photo at Iqaluit’s Black Heart Café on Wednesday. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Iqaluit youth have the chance to explore social issues through the dramatic arts with a new theatre workshop.

Émilie Tremblay-Séguin and Murielle Jassinthe are hosting Théâtre Uiviit, which runs twice a month for youth aged 12 to 17.

“The young people will know more about something they want to change — to go deeper and know the tentacles of the problem,” Tremblay-Séguin said in an interview.

Théâtre Uiviit is an Iqaluit-based French language theatre group that was formed in 2014.

During each lesson, Tremblay-Séguin and Jassinthe start by asking the kids to talk about some of the issues they’d like to explore, such as bullying, peer pressure and problems with school.

Then they have a conversation about all the different aspects of a problem, such as the effect it has on people and what potential solutions there are, Jassinthe said.

Inuit Child First, Indigenous Services Canada

Their conversations will then inspire a performance that uses mostly physical actions, rather than words.

“With the body, you can say so much. Sometimes, maybe it’s easier to express it physically,” she said.

Tremblay-Séguin and Jassinthe have even hired a clown to teach them and the class about being expressive in using non-verbal communication.

Tremblay-Séguin, a sociologist by trade, has held similar workshops in Quebec and says they have gone well.

It’s a way for youth to become more understanding of some of the social issues they see and to inspire them to think about solutions, she said, adding the audience always enjoyed the final production.

Jassinthe, who has been involved in other performances in Iqaluit, said their program helps fill a need for young people who want to be active in their community and get involved with theatre.

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When the workshops are over the youth will perform their sketches. Jassinthe and Tremblay-Séguin hope renovations at the Franco Centre will be completed by then so the final performance can take place there.

The next rehearsal is at École des Trois-Soleils from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 20. Teens who didn’t take part in previous sessions are welcome to attend.

The workshops run until June.

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